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Pha Urges Multi-Party Accord To Tackle Obesity

Pha Urges Multi-Party Accord To Tackle Obesity

Embargoed to 12 noon, Wednesday 24 May 2006

Public Health Association Director Dr Gay Keating today called on all parliamentary parties to work together to stem the obesity epidemic. She was presenting to the Health Select Committee on the Inquiry into Obesity and Diabetes.

“Obesity is one of the greatest health issues facing us today. Because obesity is extremely resistant to treatment we need to take a long-term approach that focuses on prevention. The magnitude of the problem is such that immediate and profound measures must be taken now to protect children (and consequently adults) from becoming overweight or obese.
“This will take longer than one or two election cycles. We therefore need a multi-party accord on actions to be taken over the next two decades to reduce obesity.”

Dr Keating said that the drivers of the obesity epidemic were environmental.

“No one actually wakes up in the morning and thinks ‘I’m going to get fat today’. It happens because we now live in an environment in which the easy choices are the unhealthy choices. For example, it’s easier to buy takeaways than to cook a meal, cheaper to buy coke than milk.

“To control the obesity epidemic we must make large and significant changes to the social, economic, and physical environment.”

She said all parties in Parliament must commit to funding and legislative changes to ensure:

• an affordable, healthy food supply (food affordability, food availability and food marketing)
• rapid and effective implementation of existing transport, urban planning and sustainability policies that enable and promote physical activity as a part of normal life
• assessment of all policies and major social changes for their impact on health and health inequalities.

“We need multi-party recognition of the gravity and complexity of the obesity and diabetes issue. All parties must commit to a long-term, comprehensive and resourced programme to fight obesity.”

Ends

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